Fine Gael on Education and Schools

EDUCATE TOGETHER QUESTIONNAIRE

GIVE PARENTS CHOICE AT PRIMARY LEVEL: Multi-denominational education needs to be made available to all children in Ireland. Our education system can no longer ignore parent’s rights to choose the type of education they want their child to have.

FINE GAEL RESPONSE
Fine Gael will give parents a real say in how schools are governed. We believe the current situation with over 90% of primary schools under Church patronage is not reflective of the needs of a modern Irish school system. We will hold a National Forum on Education to allow all stakeholders, including parents to engage in an open debate on a change of patronage in communities where it is appropriate and necessary.

PROTECT EDUCATION BUDGETS: Ensure the education budget remains a strategic priority in government spending and funds allocated are fully spent on services & infrastructure.

FINE GAEL RESPONSE
Education is a fundamental priority for Fine Gael and is a central plank of the Party’s strategy for economic recovery. The Party is committed to fully spending allocated funds on services and infrastructure.

STOP TARGETING MARGINALISED AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN: Cutting services and supports to vulnerable minority groups is unfair and impacts upon every child in the classroom. Lift the cap on SNA, EAL and Educational psychologist recruitment –let’s ensure those that need support, get it.

FINE GAEL RESPONSE
The priority for Fine Gael in education is the frontline. Unfortunately, due to the last Government’s disastrous economic mismanagement, the country is now facing a very difficult time and resources are very limited for key areas such as education. Given the dire fiscal situation it is not possible at this juncture to lift the cap on recruitment for staff. However, Fine Gael will do the utmost to protect frontline resources in special needs and we will work with the education partners to find efficiencies in other areas to protect these resources in education.

OPEN EDUCATE TOGETHER SECOND LEVEL SCHOOLS: Bring new thinking to second level education and embrace curriculum and structural reform. Educate Together has developed innovative approaches to delivering second level education – allow them to be implemented.

FINE GAEL RESPONSE
Fine Gael is supportive of Educate Together as a patron of second level schools.

BUILD PERMANENT SCHOOLS AND PHASE OUT PREFABS: We should prioritise the building of permanent school buildings. Too many prefab schools, which are expensive to lease, heat and maintain have become semi-permanent fixtures in our communities. Let’s get our builders working again and get proper well designed, cost efficient schools built!

FINE GAEL RESPONSE
Fine Gael is entirely dissatisfied with the waste and inefficiency of the school building programme that has been a hallmark of Fianna Fáil’s time in Government. The Fine Gael manifesto outlines a number of proposals aimed at overhauling the school building programme:

School Inventory: The building programme has been open to politicisation and has been fundamentally lacking in transparency. Fine Gael will overhaul the Department’s central database of school accommodation to ensure a complete inventory of school buildings and associated structures is maintained so that deficiencies are easily identifiable.
Local Control: We will pilot the devolution of an annual capital budget to schools to allow schools to plan for capital projects on a multi-annual basis rather than applying year on year for capital funding.
Temporary Accommodation: We will give the Office of Government Procurement and Property (OGPP) responsibility for the negotiation of prefab rental contracts to encourage greater value for money, transparency and reduce dependency on temporary accommodation